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Are we using multi-room setups the right way?



Are we using multi-room setups the right way?


NOTE: This week I attended an event at Denon Home that actually turned into an explanation of Denon’s HEOS streaming service.

Anyone in the hifi business will have noticed the increasing convergence of devices through streaming applications. Sonos was arguably the first and set the bar, its app is rightly the envy of its competitors because it just works.

And when something works as well as the app, it’s like magic; and when others try to achieve the same thing and it doesn’t work, it’s awkward like a sleight of hand gone wrong.

That was the problem with Denon’s HEOS when it launched, a failed attempt that didn’t make a great first impression. But that was years ago, and it is now, and HEOS is in much better shape joining BluOS, Google Home and AirPlay 2 as streaming options.

The main focus of the event was the effort to merge heritage, traditional hi-fi with lifestyle, casual audiences interested in wireless speakers and the like, and the fact that these two still somewhat disparate areas could be brought together by the wireless connectivity. You might think that this is a no-brainer that has already been achieved, but upon further reflection, this convergence has not quite occurred.

AirPlay focuses on Apple devices, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs, and then third-party stuff comes in, like wireless speakers and TVs. BluOS is more for audiophiles: music streamers, high-end wireless speakers, speakers with Hi-Res Audio support. Sonos is basically wireless speakers and, more recently, sound bars. Google Home is a smart home automation that also supports speakers.

Think about it and there is no single option that covers traditional and casual, hi-fi and smart; you need a combination of the options listed above to create this type of interconnected system; maybe a combination of BluOS and AirPlay or HEOS and Google Home.

With an increasing emphasis on connectivity in recent years, I would say that the message sent has not been the correct one. Vous voyez toujours ces schémas de maisons en coupe, des haut-parleurs disséminés dans la maison avec de la musique en provenance d’eux, mais je ne pense pas avoir déjà rencontré une configuration comme celle-ci ou une personne qui a cette configuration dans his house . It would be tricky (and ultimately useless) to do that in a London apartment, for example.

These diagrams seem like a simple and easy way to explain the multi-room idea, but they also make it seem like a wacky concept. Why would I want someone to randomly play their music on my bedroom speaker and vice versa? It can be good for house parties, but how often does it happen.

So the multi-room concept or what it should be, which is less appealing sounding interconnected devices, should be about connecting multiple products and unifying them into a whole. Turntables are played on wireless speakers via a music streamer, a 5.1 movie system that can be reduced to a 2.0 music system as Denon HEOS explained. Sounds like a more acceptable idea to me.

I think what Multi-room wants to push is the idea that we listen to music in different ways, when really we all listen to music in specific ways, on few devices and we just want to keep that quality in everything we listen to. . Headphones and smartphones go hand in hand, laptops and hi-fi speakers, etc., and interconnected devices offer a way to extend this to one more device in the chain. The idea of ​​multiple devices in the house talking to each other sounds great, but I’m not convinced that’s how we listen to music.

That’s the direction I hope this interconnected era will take. Less about the flashy numbers of many devices you can connect and more about the type of devices you can connect. Although I must admit that a wall of 16 Denon Home 350 speakers stacked together and screaming Billie Eilish is pretty impressive.

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